Our colleagues over at Complex reached out to us recently and subsequently sat down with ?uestlove, Shawn Gee and OKP president Dan Dantana Petruzzi (not to mention foundational OKP artists Common and Talib Kweli) recently to record an “Oral History of Okayplayer.” It’s always a little surreal to go from covering the news to being the news and its always weird to read about yourself, like hearing your voice on tape for the first time. But flattering, too, of course and since the origins of Okayplayer stretch all the way back to those first true notes played in 1987 it felt like the story was ready to be told–and certainly of interest to OKP readers! It’s also of course a chance to address some of the issues that are closest to our hearts; the potential of digital tech to empower (or divide) along racial lines, the transformative effect of artists connecting and communicating directly to their fans and the essential dopeness of Philadelphia, USA. Without further ado, read below an excerpt of ?uesto revealing the misty origins of the term ‘okayplayer’–way back at the dawn of time, before the internet. Then click through to read the complete history–from the bedroom to the boardroom, so to speak–via Complex.
?uestlove: [The name came from] Tramp. He was an art director. Back in the days of The Source, he did a cartoon called “A View From The Underground,” back in like ’91, ’92. And he designed some of our first few album covers. He did our EP From the Ground Up, he did Do You Want More?!!!??! and he also did Illadelph Halflife.
For The Ground Up, Tramp didn’t have the logo. So he just made up the first thing that came to his head until he got the proper fonts and logos from Geffen. When he showed me the first draft of the design, he just wrote “Okayplayer” in a box. And I thought OK, that’s the most Blue Note–looking artwork font-wise and everything. So then when he turns in the proper artwork with the label stuff and everything, I didn’t like it. It lost its Blue Note appeal. I told him, put that “Okayplayer” back on and just stick the logo on the back of the record. It didn’t make sense at the time, but it just felt like it needed to be there. It wasn’t like it was a label or anything, I just wanted Okayplayer to be there. And then it literally just stuck and somehow it’s found itself onto all 15 of our records.